Thiruvananthapuram: Former Indian athlete Anju Bobby George on Wednesday resigned as president of Kerala Sports Council along with 6 other members following serious differences with Sports Minister E.P. Jayarajan who had accused them of corruption and nepotism.
Anju’s brother Ajith Markose, whose appointment as coach had triggered a huge controversy, also resigned from the post. Along with Anju, the other nominated members who quit on Wednesday included vice president T K Ibrahimkutty, members; S Nujumudeen, Salim P Chacko, Preeja Sreedharan, Tom Joseph and member secretary Binu George Varghese. T C Mathew who is out of station, is likely to quit on his return. Another member K Radhakrishnan had resigned earlier.
The last council meet presided over by her on Wednesday gave the nod for setting up an ethics commission headed by an IPS officer, which will examine issues like corruption, nepotism, favouritism and harassment in the field of sports. Anju, the medal winner in the World Athletics meet in Paris in 2003, had taken up the post just six months ago.
The problem began earlier this month when Anju called on the new minister to discuss the activities of the council. The meeting triggered a major controversy with the athlete accusing Mr Jayarajan of humiliating her by levelling false allegations against her.
At a jam-packed press conference held at the council office, Anju gave a detailed account of the events leading to her resignation. “When the previous government approached me, I was preoccupied with many assignments. But when the state which helped me a lot sought my services, I agreed to take up the job,” she added.
Soon after taking up as president, she could understand the ground reality in the council. “I am a revenue official. I have travelled across the world for international meets and availed of top class facilities. When I saw the files here, I could spot many irregularities and major lapses in infrastructure development. Even my e-mail was hacked once. I submitted a complaint against it. Since then many controversies started appearing in the media,” she added.
Anju said the allegations came up because of the council’s plan to constitute an ethics commission. “All issues related to sports, corruption, nepotism, favouritism and harassment will come within the purview of the commission,” she said.
“Kerala Sports Lottery started during 2006-11 was the biggest fraud committed on sportspersons in the state this century. Even my photograph was used for the lottery. I was told that you will get money for training. But I didn’t get any money from the lottery,” she said.On the controversy related to her brother Ajith Markose’s appointment as coach, she said, “the council president does not have the right or powers to appoint people to that post. The government had sent the proposal to the council which discussed the issue. We did not appoint anyone directly,” she said.
Ajith was a national coach with five medals in national games. His application was forwarded by Sinimol Paulose, Sajeesh and Preeja Sreedharan for special consideration for his role in getting five medals. He has participated in 10 international completions, including Asian Games. “His only disqualification was that his sister became the council president six months ago,” she added.
Anju said resignation was not new to her family. “When I got the medal in 2003 world championship, the then sports council president had asked why should the government pay for her husband and coach Bobby George. My husband resigned soon after that statement,” she said.“Sports can be killed but they cannot defeat sportspersons,” she said.
Anju also sent a letter to director Vigilance and Anti- Corruption Bureau (VACB) Jacob Thomas to probe the activities of the council during the past 10 years.
Council member Salim P. Chacko said they wanted an officer like Jacob Thomas to probe the case. He said the district sports' councils constituted during the LDF tenure had continued even after the change of government. Anju refuted the allegation that she was smuggling athletes from Kerala for the Anju Bobby George Sports Foundation, Bangalore.
“We all have trained from there. We provide international facilities. Legendary athletes Carl Lewis and Mike Powell have visited the foundation and given tips to athletes. We are paying Rs 1,650 per day from our own pocket to the athletes since the foundation has not received any sponsorship yet,” she said.